When I was young, our parents took us to a ‘world circus’ run by one couple. They had a meager horse. It could count and do mathematics.
The head of the family would say to the horse: how many fingers do I hold up now? And the horse would scrape the ground that number of times. He would repeat with different numbers from the public and the horse did it always right. Then he would say: how much is two plus four? Right again.
He did this so many times (it was one of the main attraction of his circus), that I noticed that the horse stopped scraping, every time the boss looked up. Then he said: it can predict the future too. Is there any engaged couple here? There was. Tell them how many children they will get. The man did not look up, the horse kept scraping and everyone roared with laughter.
Now medical researchers want to convince us that dogs can count. No, I’m not kidding. But they are more sophisticated, trying to find money for their laboratory. How did they do it?
Let’s say that they know what brain areas get activated when we drive a car. Now they look at these brain areas in dogs while they walk and low and behold, they are extra active when they walk. That means that we use those things-passing-by areas when we drive. But that doesn’t mean dog could drive. But that’s how they did it.
They know what brain area gets activated when we do math. Now they looked at these brain areas in dogs while showing them pics with dots. Low and behold, the same brain area is extra active when the numbers change. Dogs can count. Rather, we use that brain area when we count. But that doesn’t mean dogs could count. But that’s how they did it.
It may come in handy for a dog to know if the whole litter is trotting behind her or one is missing. But knowing to count is quite a different thing. Maybe it could count its blessings but that would be it.
Medical researchers should be penalized when fooling the media or the public, the more misleading, the higher the penalty. That should teach them not to count their chickens before they hatch.
And then there is the news about a ‘robotic police dog.’ You read the article and discover it’s rather a robot than a dog. There is a fundamental difference between a flashlight (a torch) and a light flash (a beam of light). A robotic dog is a dog with a chip, a doglike-robot is a robot on four legs.